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  S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine - Northern Norway

 

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S-Boats in the Kriegsmarine 1935 - 1945

War-Zones of the S-Boats

 Northern Norway

By order of Hitler the advance on Murmansk started on 22.06.1941 but faltered in the mean time had been stopped and reduced to the defence of the nickel mines at Petsamo/Finnland. At the same time the Kriegsmarine had to interrupt Allied shipping in the Arctic Sea and to ensure the German shipping.  For that purpose also the deployment of S-boats had been requested.

The OKM ordered on 19.10.1941 formation of the 8. SFltl (Kptlt. Stuhr-Christiansen) with the boats "S 42" (Oblt.z.S. Seeger), "S 44" (Oblt.z.S. Merkel), "S 45" (Oblt.z.S. Babbel), "S 46" (Oblt.z.S. Priebe) and the tender "Adolf Lüderitz" and the transit into the Arctic Sea. At the same time the steamer "Larsen" was set in march to Tromsø, to be rebuilt into a workshop-ship. The steamer "Hernøsand" was converted into a torpedo-control-engineering ship and torpedo-stock. 

On 11.11.1941 the 8. SFltl left Kiel for the march to Northern Norway. Because of bad weather the boats arrived at Bergen only on 26.11.1941. From there they were towed, partly by pickets "V 5507" (ex  "S 10") and "V 5508" (ex "S 11"), through the fjords to go easy on the engines

The old Maybach-boats "S 10" through "S 16" had been declared as pickets and were subordinated the Coast Protection Unit (Küstenschutzverband [KSV]) Bergen, which was commanded by KKpt. Bartels. He had established his staff at the accommodation ship "Tan" (ex "Polaris") and the layed up sailing vessel "Westwärts" (ex "Stadsraad Lehmkuhl"), laying in Åstveitvågen, a fjord vest of Bergen. 

K.S.V. - S 10, S 11, S 13, S 15, S 16 - in Åstveitvågen bclose to Bergen 1944 - Picture: Archives Förderverein

Boat Commanding Officer New Indication
S 10 Lt.z.S. Erdmann V 5507
S 11 Lt..z.S. Lüders V 5508
S 12 Oblt.z.S. Töniges V 5504
S 13 Lt.z.S. Weber V 5510
S 14 Lt.z.S. Kecke V 5509
S 15 Oblt.z.S. Obermayer V 5511
S 16 Oblt.z.S. Babbel V 5512

With changing towing vessels, often delayed by bad weather, Tromsø was arrived at on 15.12.1941.

 

The first deployment of the flotilla together with "Z 25" and "Z 27" on 18.12.1941 was as escorts of a tanker which led from Harstad to Tromsø outside the skerries.

An operation of the 8. SFltl together with the 8. Z-Fltl, on 26.12.1941 against a British force operation in Vestfjord went into empty space.  On the march back "S 45" had bottomcontact and had to go into dock at Harstad.

On 28.12.1941 collided "S 42" and "S 44" during another resultless employment against a Brtitsh force operating in the Vestfjord, so that "S 44" had to be reported aKB (außer Kriegsbereitschaft - not ready for action) and to go to the shipyard at Narvik for repairs. With that the flotilla existed of only two boats.

The planned march of the 8. SFltl to Kirkenes could not start before the 03.01.1942 due to bad weather. 

Bad weather also further on delayed the transit; on 06.01.1942 the boats arrived at Vardø, on 12.01.1942 Madsø. From there the two boats performed a  reconnaissance operation to Kirkenes and back on 11.01.1942. On 13.01.1942 they sortied towards the Fisher-peninsula. On the same day also "S 42" and "S 45" joined the flotilla after completion of repairs. On 14.01.1942 the flotilla transitted to Madsø. "S 42" and "S 45" transported depth chages for "UJ 1205" which had depleated its stores.

Two planned advances into Motowski-bight were prevented or had to be broken off premature due to bad weather. At temperatures of - 6 bis - 8o and strong seastate the weapon fell out due to icing. Commandstand crews and boats had to suffer much from icing.

Icing og the Boats in Northern Norway - Picture: Archives Erling Skold

Not before 27.01.1942 the flotilla transittedto Semskefjord north of Kirkenes, which was to be the berthing position for the flotilla and tender "Adolf Lüderitz" for the next five months. There they first were held back by the weather also.

"Adolf Lüderitz" and S-Boats at Semskefjord - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

Boats alongside "Adolf Lüderitz" - Picure: Archives Erling Skjold

S-Boat of the 8. SFltl and DS "Leuna" near Kirkenes - Picture: Archives: Erling Skjold

Boat of the 8. SFltl in the Semskefjord - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

From 01.02. to 18.02.1942 no actions were carried out because of the weather. On 19.02.1942 the flotilla performed a sortie with all four boats to Kildin, which had to be broken off due to bad weather. Thereafter the flotilla was laying stopped inthe fjord by the bad weather until 28.02.1942. 

On 20.03.1942  "S 42", "S 44", and "S 46" of the 8. SFltl together with four submarine-chasers escorted the laying of the flank-minebarrier "Bantos A" by minelayers "Cobra" and "Brummer" off  Northernnorway. Thereafter the boats again were stopped  due to bad weather. A scheduled tactical exercise with the destroyergroup "Nordmeer" ("Z 24" und "Z 25") could be executed on 28.04.1942. 

On 15.02.1942 it was ordered by SKL, to detail the 6. SFltl with eight boats and tender "Tsingtau" for the deployment in the area Lofot-Islands - Narvik. The flotilla, therefore, transitted with "S 19" (Lt.z.S. Hörnig), "S 24" (Oblt.z.S. Nolte), "S 69" (ObStrm.d.Res. Licht), "S 71" (Oblt.z.S. Thomsen), "S 73" (Oblt.z.S. Goetschke) , "S 74" (Oblt.z.S. Witt), and "S 75" (Oblt.z.S. Nitsche) from Heligoland to Stavanger on 15.03.1942 and was stopped there by bad weather. 

On 03.04.1942 the flotilla got orders to transit to Kristiansand. On 10.04.1942 they left harbour to carry out reconnaissance against British blockade-breaker havin left Göteborg harbour and returned to Kristiansand afterwards.

On 16.04.1942 sailed "S 19" and "S 24" in accordace with ordersv from Krisitiansand to Kiel, tobe handed over to the 5. SFltl. For the transit to Kiel Oblt.z.S.  Nolte took command of "S 24" and Oblt.z.S. Rebensburg of "S 19".

On the next day the flotilla with "S 69", "S 71", "S 73", "S 74", and "S 75" transitted to Bergen.

On 20.04.1942 the 6. SFltl transitted to Aalesund. After an intermediate stop at Molde Trondheim was arrived at on 22.04.1942. There it was attacked by 23 Halifax- and 11 Lancaster-bombers on 29.04.1942 just like battleship "Tirpitz". "S 69" was damaged by fragments and had to be reported aKB.

On 27.04.1942 the 6. SFltl entered the new basis Svolvær with "S 71", "S 73", "S 74", and "S 75". On 02.05.1942 the in the meantime repaired "S 69" followed.

On 01.05.1942 "S 76" (Oblt.z.S. Meyering) iwas commissioned and arrived at Svolvær on 12.05.1942. 

Das am 14.03. in Dienst gestellte "S 113" (Oblt.z.S. Schnebel) commissioned on 14.03. joined at the flotilla at Svolvær on 01.05.1942 and Oblt.z.S. Nitsche commissioned on teh same day "S 114" at Travemünde. The boat arrived on 26.05.1942 at Svolvær.

On 11.05.1942 the tender of the 6. SFltl ,"Tanga" had arrived at Semskefjord. The planned escorting against submarines by the 8. SFltl had again become a victim of the weather. A planned supply of submarine-chasers "UJ 1104" and "UJ 1108" with depth charges by the boats had been made impossible by the seastate.

During a check-out trip of the 6. SFltl with "S 69", "S 71", "S 73", "S 74", "S 75", and"S 76" on 18.05.1942 "S 113" had a grounding off Måløy-Skarholmen at the entrance of Leinesfjorden and had to be reported aKB. She was towed to Svolvær by "S 69" and from there by fishery vessels to Bodø and finally to the shipyard at Trondheim. All proppellers, shafts and shaft-bearings had to be exchanged. She stayed at the shipyard until August 1942 for repairs. She was reported KB again on 09.08.1942.

"S 113" on the Slipway at Trondheim - Picture: Archives Förderverein

"S 113'" at Trondheim Mekaniske Verksted June 1942 - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

No actions were possible until the 22.06.1942. The attempt of the 8. SFltl, to carry out a minelaying on 14.06.1942 failed because of the weather.

The 6. SFltl transitted with five boats to Semskefjord, which was arrived on 23.06.1942 while boats "S 69", "S 76", and "S 113" remained at Westfjord with Svolvær as base as group "Narvik". From there various escort- and transporttasks for Adm. Nordnorwegen were executed.

Boat of the 6. SFltl in Northern Norway 1942 - Picture: Archives A. Hullmann

Exchange of Flotillas in Semskefjord - Picture: Archives Freundeskreis Schnellboote und Korvetten

On 08.07.1942 the 8. SFlt with exchanged tender, "Tanga", was ordered to Kiel, were it was disbanded on 12.07.1942. The boats went into shipyard overhaul and got a 40mm gun. Then they were distributed to different flotillas. 

The weather prevented in May and June 1942 all deployments of the three boats of the 6. SFltl at Svolvør. The boats at Semskefjord were not better off. On 30.06.1942 a planned mineoperation of the 6. SFltl had to be called off due to the weather. While the boats had to stay in harbour to no avail, at the western front  only seven boats were reported KB (ready for action).

Early Juli the 6. SFltl was sat in alarm readiness at Semskefjord a number of times, which then was cancelled every time. The three boats at Svolvør were deployed once as anti-submarine screen for the Heavy Cruiser "Lützow" (ex "Deutschland") which was at that time under command of "Kampfgruppe II" under VAdm. Kummetz in the Narwik-area.

The 6. SFltl as Anti-Submarine Screen in Northern Norway 1942 - Picture: Archives A. Hullmann

Heavy Cruiser "Lützow" in Northern Norway 1942 - Billede: Archives A. Hullmann

Two boats of the 6. SFltl in Skjomen (Ofotfjord near Narwik) alongside "Christian Radich", in the foreground MT-"Kärnten" with U 408 and U 457 the 16.07.1942 - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

On 26.07.1942 also the 6. SFltl - ineffective for the northern war zone Arctic Sea - was called back from Norway. On 16.08.1942 five boats were laying in the shipyard at Rotterdam, "S 76" was aKB at Kiel and "S 69" and "S 113" were on march back to Germany. All boats got a stay at the shipyard for several weeks and transited then again to the Channel.

On 01.12.1942 was the 8. SFltl formed again. Commander became Kptlt. Zymalkowski. He got assigned the boats "S 44" (Lt.z.S. Quistorp), "S 64" (Kptlt. Wilcke), "S 66" (Lt.z.S. Schuur), "S 69" (Oblt.z.S. Ritter von Georg), "S 108" (Lt.z.S. Osterloh), and "S 118" (OFhnr.z.S. Fanger) as well as "Carl Peters" and as torpedo-control-engineering ship and torpedo stock steamship "Hernøsand".

Delayed by bad weather the flotilla left harbour on 16. and 17.12.1942, but were then blewn in at Stavanger. On 19.01.1943 four boats arrived the harbour of Bodø, the other four were still laying in Trondheim. 

Signalman at signalduty - Picture: Archives Freundeskreis Schnellboote und Korvetten

To cover German shipping along the Northnorwegian coast had the old boats of the fast Subchacer-Group ("S 11", "S 13", "S 15" und "S 16") transited from Bergen to Trondheim. Now they sailed back to Bergen. 

"S 13", "S 15" and "M 2" at Bergen 1943 - Picture: Archives Erling Skjold

After at all boats were assembled in Bodø, the  8. SFltl started a training-phase. 

 

6. SFltl on march in northern Norway - Picture: Archives Atle Wilmar

Official note on rear of picture above

On 17.03.1943 the 8. SFltl was at Ramsund and was laying alongside "Carl Peters" when a German steamship, the "Anna Rehder", rammed the boats, so that "S 118" was badly damaged and had to goto the shipyard at Harstad.

On 28.04.1943 "S 44" and "S 69" were employed in a search and rescue operation for survivors of a missed ME 109 which endedd without results.

Thereafterthe flotilla was in readiness until it was ordered back to Germany end of May, were it arrived on 18.06.1943. In the due shipyard-phase at Kiel took a bomb attack by the Royal Airforce (RAF) place on 27.08.1943, which the boats "S 44" and "S 66" fell to victim. From the 6. SFltl fell by the same attack "S 135" and "S 137" (total loss) out. 

After the end of the shipyard-phase transit to the operation area with the boats "S 68", "S 69" und "S 127" on 10.09.1943 started.